Recently, the media seems to be saturated with articles, tweets, and overarching news on the topic of augmented reality and its impending penetration into a myriad of markets. Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality are all frequently used buzzwords that seem to intimidate many as they promise to disrupt almost every industry imaginable. But what exactly are these new technologies and why are they important?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Augmented Reality as an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device. Those are a lot of big words that can fall on deaf ears due to the lack of communication and, with the prevalence of the technology on the horizon, it is important for consumers, managers, marketers, and developers alike to know what is coming their way and how to take full advantage of the new tech. The potential power of AR is exciting as markets gear up to take on this new tech. To show the potential scope of the technology, the augmented reality market is projected to potentially have a $29.5 million impact by 2020, and companies are beginning to shift their operations in preparation for the adoption of the tech and keep up with the shift:
In addition to this projected economic power that augmented reality will have in the U.S. market, the tech will influence a myriad of industries as shown in the following graph:
Augmented reality promises disruption in many fields, from medical procedures and healthcare to operations management to even retail as we learned through @fernanfu ‘s awesome presentation a few weeks ago. However, I see the largest opportunity for AR education to be in regards to how companies can benefit from interacting with the average consumer using AR.
Take snapchat for example. Snapchat has been able to maintain a certain level of digital maturity by adapting to new disruptive tech and strategically positioning its business to appeal to its consumers as an entertainment and news platform. Often ahead of the game and quick to capitalize on new consumer trends, Snapchat has made a name for itself in the digital space.
I recently read an article posted just yesterday, October 2nd, on how snapchat is bringing augmented reality into their app: Snapchat to launch augmented reality art platform tomorrow (https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/02/snapchat-art/) The launching of this tech is positioned with a partnership with many artiststo present artificial art that can be seen only through Snapchat, in line with Snapchat’s philosophy of “reinventing the camera, representing [their] greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”
The launch of the tech will marry the snapchat map feature with the augmented reality by placing the “art” in various places around the world for snapchat users to find. With this launch, pop artists such as Jeff Koons and others are able to be featured on a powerful platform with a global audience while snapchat users are able to experience augmented reality first hand.
While I do not want to underestimate the “cool” factor of being able to see art artificially placed art, and the worldwide connection that artists are able to make with an audience because of AR, there is an aspect of the new tech that seems, for lack of a better word, gimmicky. I can’t help but think that this fad will last as long as Pokémon Go, taking the world by storm for a few weeks and retreating to the back of everyones mind and deleted off of their phones. How much value does viewing an artificial sculpture actually bring to a consumer, artist, or company. What value does augmented reality actually bring to a platform such a snapchat? Because of this relatively preconceived notion that I had regarding augmented reality, I did a little more digging to see where the impact in an average consumers life can be.
I stumbled upon an article that seemed to answer my question: ARAD helps developers get ads in their augmented reality apps. (https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/17/arad-helps-developers-get-ads-in-their-augmented-reality-apps/) ARAD presents itself as a way for app developers to monetize their product/service through augmented reality ads. Having to bridge the gap between being impactful with advertising without being too invasive with the AR. An example of how the platform works is shown below.
While ARAD is currently geared to game developers, I see opportunity for this tech to spread into snapchat and potentially other social platforms. Augmented reality advertising is a way to monetize and a way to, in my opinion, legitimize the use of augmented reality for companies and consumers alike. Instead of just a gimmick that captures consumer attention for a week or two, advertisements can become targeted to benefit both sides of any business platform and use this cool new tech to its fullest advantage. Being able to use augmented reality to influence daily lives in more constructive ways than mere entertainment is incredibly exciting for advertisers, businesses, and consumers.
We’re all watching closely this new technology and what Augmented Reality really means for our world in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Hopefully we can find a way in which to take full advantage of the technology available to us and, in turn, transform the world around us.